James Heartfield on the response of the Left to the recent riots in England's cities.
A lot of radicals, dreaming of a return to the class struggles of the 1980s, see the recent outbreak of looting as a proto-revolutionary struggle.
Socialist Worker saw ‘the urban revolt spreading across Britain’.
The phone-hacking scandal hasn't only revealed the true sleaziness of Britain's establishment, but also the resounding hollowness of a post-ideological elite held together by little more than self-interest - writes James Heartfield
*60 Metropolitan Police officers have widened their investigation of News International to take in the rest of the national press.
*The Government has appointed the Right Honorable Lord Justice Leveson to enquire into standards in the Press, and proposals include a licensing system for journalists and newspapers.
James Heartfield surveys the struggle to define the Second World War.
'How Josef Goebbels, the original spin doctor must be chuckling', wrote Tony Rennell, reporting demands from German newspapers that the Queen apologise for a war crime: Goebbels' 'clever manipulation of the truth about the Allied bombing of the city of Dresden still has life in it'1.
- 1. Tony Rennell, 'Hitler was evil. Our bombs were not', Observer, 31 October 2004
As the government embarks on yet another set of sweeping "reforms" of the education system, James Heatfield argues that state education has consistently encouraged working-class children to accept their lot in life.
In West London, journalist Toby Young is planning a ‘free school’. Established by a self-selecting group of parents, independent of local education authorities, this will be a school that will receive its money direct from the Department of Education. And it will aim to teach to the highest of academic standards.
What sort of a threat does illegal downloading pose to the system of private property in general? asks James Heartfield
As of June 2006 the Recording Industry Association of America had sued 17,587 people, including a 12-year-old girl and a dead grandmother for infringing the laws on copyright. The RIAA further sent around 2,500 pre-litigation letters to 23 universities across the US threatening action over students' alleged illegal downloading of music files.
Looking through the mists of obligatory sentimentalism that enveloped the 70th aniversary of the outbreak of WWII, James Heartfield remembers the pitiless subordination of people to production on all sides of that crisis, and argues against the idea that the war tipped the scales in the favour of the working class.
The labour question was not an afterthought in the Second World War. It was the greatest question of all. The victors in the national struggle were those who best mobilised their domestic workers and so best equipped their armies. The net impact of the war on the working class was that more of them worked much harder, and got paid less.
'Green capitalism': a new paradigm of sustainable production or a licence to shut down plants and print money? Basing this article on excerpts from his recent book, James Heartfield looks at the case of Enron, an influential pioneer in increasing profits by cutting output
Of course companies that sell climate change solutions stand to benefit as greenhouse gas emissions come to bear a price tag.
– Daniel Esty Hillhouse, Professor of Environmental Law, Harvard University1
- 1. The Green List, The Guardian supplement, p.29, 5 November 2007.
Despite the State being the main investor in the UK's national economy, the official rhetoric of private sector productivity is alive and well. James Heartfield takes a look at New Labour's failed strategy of privatising public services and the rise of ‘corporate welfare'
Two very contradictory stories about British capitalism are told today. The first is that the State is eating up more and more of the private sector. The sudden increase of public shares in the major banks and the falling of the railways into receivership is evidence of a return to the nationalisations of the 1970s.